powerbook I've been talking to a few friends recently about the imminent launch of Apple's Intel CPU base Powerbooks and realized there's a good chance I'd want to switch back.

What would it take for the new Powerbooks to win me over (again)? Three things:

  1. A version of Virtual PC (or something like it) that allows me to run Windows apps a nearly native speed. This was a major reason that I left the Powerbook. I have Windows apps that I absolutely need to run with reasonable performance (think small scale 2D and 3D real-time animation rendering). And with a real Intel CPU under the hood, why shouldn't that be possible?
  2. The exceedingly long battery life that Powerbooks have been known for. That means at least 4+ hours of light to moderate work.
  3. A screen with resolution that's on par with modern laptops from other vendors. That means 1400x1050 or better on a roughly 15" display.

That's really it. Everything else about the existing Powerbooks and OS X are a-okay in my book. I already know that the new powerbooks will be dramatically faster than the current crop of Morotola based machines, and that was my only other major beef (I think).

What would you need to switch to a Powerbook?

Posted by jzawodn at December 19, 2005 09:57 PM

Reader Comments
# Charles said:

Small scale 2D and 3D real-time animation rendering? You mean games, right?

on December 19, 2005 10:47 PM
# Tom said:

I have this last version of the 15" Powerbook and the 1440x960 resolution has created a spoiled brat out of me.

What else would I want out of a Powerbook? Probably less heat and Jeremy nailed it about Virtual PC. It just needs to be quick.

on December 19, 2005 10:53 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

No, I don't mean games. But I guess the requirements are similar.

I mean post-flight analysis and playback software like SeeYou: http://www.seeyou.ws/

on December 19, 2005 10:58 PM
# Karl said:

I've already made the switch on the desktop, but I would need a Trackpoint-like pointer ala a Thinkpad. People can have their trackpad too, just like IBM, er, Lenovo does.

on December 19, 2005 11:30 PM
# Parand Tony Darugar said:

1400x1050? My standard issue HP is still 1024x768, so that's quite a stretch.

on December 19, 2005 11:32 PM
# Dylan Greene said:

No huge lite-up Apple logo smack middle of the cover for everybody to see.

If they expect to use me for advertising then I expect to be compensated nicely for it.

And no, putting stickers over the apple logo is not an acceptable solution. I'm 30, not 12.

on December 19, 2005 11:38 PM
# Marc said:

It will be interesting to see how QEMU performs on the Intel Macs compared to Virtual PC, especially if the author releases KQEMU for them.

QEMU works quite well on my x86 Linux machine, but it was awfully slow on my PowerPC PowerBook. Hopefully with "Intel Inside", it will do a lot better.

on December 20, 2005 12:15 AM
# Serdar Kilic said:

The latest 15" Powerbook does 1440 x 960, the same as my now older model 17" (the resolution was the sole factor as to why I went to the 17"). Apple is also claiming a 5.5 hour battery life (with the appropriate disclaimer that its based on usage). Almost there!

on December 20, 2005 12:32 AM
# Onno said:

Why virtual pc? It seems to me that the whole switch to intel would make a dual boot technically possible. That would be the ideal for me: booting into OS X by default, but being able to run native windows whenever needed...

As for the things I'd like on the new powerbook: the talks about flash memory allowing a sleep mode which does not cost any battery, but secures a fast startup afterwards doesn't sound to bad either.

on December 20, 2005 01:13 AM
# Munki said:

Why virtual pc or dual booting? If Apple are switching to Intel chips and cores then it's about damn time VMware get something working on OS X Intel. Be it VMware Player, Workstation or both.

on December 20, 2005 03:35 AM
# Joe said:

How about 2 buttons with the trackpad. I don't want to use cmd-click or have to plug in an external mouse when on the move.

on December 20, 2005 03:51 AM
# Onno said:

Why dual booting? Because when developing websites it's always usefull to find out how the browser that is being used by 90% of the people displays your site.

My preference for OS X and firefox is not necessarily shared by the world ;)

on December 20, 2005 05:51 AM
# MikeInAZ said:

I need the new PowerBooks to be ugly. I have the current ones and it's like I'm dating a supermodel. I feel inferior using it and my confidence has gone to hell.

on December 20, 2005 05:59 AM
# Dirk Spiers said:

Dual boot would be good, a VM would be better. I want OS X as my main environment and to be able to run Windows apps from time to time. So VPC would be okm for me.

One other thing I hope the new PB will do better: Better WiFi reception.

But I don't see an Intel based PB till Q2. It all depends on how fast Intel ramps up with the high performance versions of their Yonah chip.



on December 20, 2005 06:21 AM
# Sean Legassick said:

Dylan: did you remove the logo from your car too? or have you ever owned a musical keyboard like a Roland - check the advertising on the back. I'm not saying it's great, but it's by no means just apple.

MikeInAZ: +++1 funny, and everyone else's envious looks become problematic...

on December 20, 2005 06:36 AM
# dan isaacs said:

The lack of a nipple on the keyboard is actually my biggest gripe about PBs. I hate trackpads.

But even though I hate them, I'll be trading my work provided Stinkpad for a work provided PB in about 12 months. Peer pressure alone dictates it.

on December 20, 2005 07:33 AM
# Anjan said:

Wow! I'm in agreement with you Jeremy. Of course, the current 15" Powerbooks have a resolution of 1440X960 so that issue is addressed already.

The feature I'm waiting for most is a decent emulation of Windoze to run a couple of programs from short-sighted vendors.

I do hope they don't remove the glowing Apple logo or put a joystick/nipple in because that'd be reason enough to stick it out with my current 17" PB. The people that are complaining about trackpads probably have never worked with an Apple trackpad. And Intel Powerbooks will be released much sooner than Q2 of 2006.

on December 20, 2005 07:46 AM
# Priit said:

Max 1,5 kg no more, i guess it's around 3 pounds in your ancient units :-)
Hibernate support.
Live Battery Advisor or something - in critical situation's i absolutely need to know exactly how dark i must turn the display to be able to work another 30 minutes.

on December 20, 2005 08:17 AM
# Brian Duffy said:

You don't really need a high-res screen, just as you don't need a mouse with more than one button. PC users depend on high resolution to make up for the poor usability of their operating system.

on December 20, 2005 12:45 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Uhh... Riiight.

on December 20, 2005 12:46 PM
# James Day said:

Dual boot isn't enough to satisfy a "whenever needed" test. It requires a reboot and that's often not convenient, since it means abandoning whatever else you're in the middle of to do it and not being able to take notes in your other environment while you work through whatever you're doing in that alternative boot.

on December 20, 2005 02:56 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Agreed. Dual boot is so 1990s...

on December 20, 2005 02:58 PM
# Jonathan Disher said:

1440x960? Uhh, thats a tad small.

I just upgraded from the Dell D600 (1400x1050) to the D810 (1920x1200). Admittedly, it's not thin and sexy like a powerbook, but between the builtin lcd and the 1600x1200 20" lcd on my screen, i have plenty of realestate.

Now, a PowerBook with 1920x1200 would be damned irresistable.

on December 20, 2005 03:50 PM
# Paul Hoffman said:

I want it to be a 14-inch iBook instead of a 15-inch PowerBook. Seriously. There is no reason for me to pay the $700 more for 1" diagonal and slightly lower weight and invisibly-faster speed on typical use.

on December 20, 2005 04:34 PM
# Dylan Greene said:

Sean Legassick -

My car says "Accord" on it nice and small. In fact, it's about the same size as the Apple logo, and yet my car is 100x times the size of a laptop. I would never drive a car with "HONDA" written in huge letters across the back windshield, and that's what this is like.

You don't find big logos on business suits or dress shoes. That would be tacky. Even if I'm wearing a $2000 suit I don't feel the need to advertise that. I'm wearing it for me, not them. Same with the laptop.

I don't mind Apple branding their machines, I would just prefer it small and in the corner.

on December 20, 2005 07:31 PM
# Rube said:

What Paul said. A cheap entry level model. I've never used a mac, and until very recently never had any inclination to. So I'm not going to drop $1000+ when I could go buy a dell for $700 (or less!) that I know I'll like.

on December 20, 2005 11:00 PM
# John Robb said:

I would wait until they get the kinks out of the software. An early switch will likely prove more of a problem than it is worth.

on December 21, 2005 08:30 AM
# Hans said:

I wouldn't be too concerned about software issues with Intel based OS X boxes. They've been running and developing an Intel version in parallel with the PPC version for a couple of years and the dev versions seem to be for the most part robust and stable. Availability, OTOH is likely to be a significant issue.

As for saving a few hundred bucks getting a low end Dell, with a PB or iBook you get one thing you can't get with the Dell, Mac OS. ;-)

on December 21, 2005 03:47 PM
# Jasmeet said:

"That's really it. Everything else about the existing Powerbooks and OS X are a-okay in my book. I already know that the new powerbooks will be dramatically faster than the current crop of Morotola based machines, and that was my only other major beef (I think)."

Don't you mean IBM?

on December 21, 2005 05:35 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Err, yeah. IBM, Motorola, whatever. :-) In this case, they're semi-interchangable.

on December 21, 2005 08:41 PM
# Jason Young said:

actually, you don't mean IBM, Morotola, or even Motorola - I think you mean Freescale ;-)

on December 21, 2005 10:11 PM
# Francois Lane said:

I just switched back to Mac (I already had an Apple II+ ;-). The main reason was that Apple is the only manufacturer (that I know) to offer a 12in lightweight notebook with a descent graphic card that could easily manage a 23in external DVI monitor.

on December 22, 2005 06:17 AM
# Tim Dietrich said:

I switched to a PowerBook about a month ago. I do some pretty heavy database and Web development work, and also manage several Windows-based servers for various clients. I have been amazed at how easy it has been to transition over to OSX. There's not much that I can't do in terms of administering the Windows-based servers. I can even administer SQL Server without any problems. The only real difficulty that I've run into (that requires me to power up my old Windows notebook) is checking things in and out of Microsoft's Visual SourceSafe (which a few of my clients are still using).

The battery life on my 15" PowerBook has been quite addictive. I find that I can run off of the battery for such long periods of time that I forget that I'm it. Haven't had any problems in terms of the thing heating up, and haven't crashed yet either.

My only wish in terms of the 15" PowerBook (and the PBs in general) is that they make the trackpad a little easier to deal with. I've also found that adjusting to the keyboard can be a little frustrating -- "delete" doesn't always do what I expect, and neither do the home / end keys.

But other than that, I am glad I switched.

on December 22, 2005 11:13 AM
# John said:

Enough money to buy one.

on December 22, 2005 11:42 PM
# Indrek said:

What would I need to switch to a Powerbook?

a) my current brand of preference - HP - to cease to exist. This would have the moderate chance of forcing me to look for alternatives.

b) more built-in hardware capabilities, like a memory card reader, infrared port and fingerprint sensor. I don't want to carry around dozens of USB dongles with me.

c) less all-round tackiness. This includes the glowing Apple logo that Dylan mentioned. I want a functional laptop for everyday use, not a fashion item that screams "Mac user here!"

d) ability to skin OSX to look more or less like Windows. That's just a personal quirk, I'm used to the WinXP chrome (especially the Royale theme in MCE) and find it visually far more pleasing than anything I've seen in OSX.

e) ability to run a .NET-capable web server natively or at native speed via Virtual PC. Not sure how far mod_mono has come in this regard, so this might be a moot point.

That's about it, I suppose.

on December 23, 2005 06:00 AM
# Indrek said:

Forgot one.

f) a quick trip to a psychiatrist. See, I have this silly little phobia that if I start using a Mac I'll turn into a flaming zealot myself. You know, the kind that always has to insist on their superiority over PC users. I know, it's totally irrational, but that's what I got out of reading /.
No offence meant to any reasonable, level-headed Mac users, of course.

on December 23, 2005 06:07 AM
# alex M. said:

"What would you need to switch to a Powerbook?"

Some cash...

on December 23, 2005 12:44 PM
# ben said:

Didn't you already switch back to Windows so you could use Yahoo applications?

on December 25, 2005 10:05 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I switched mostly for speed and to run my flight analysis software. However, having native Windows apps at normal speed would give me the best of both worlds.

on December 25, 2005 10:24 AM
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